Toh Kin Woon would make a better Gerakan Cabinet Minister than Keng Yaik as the former  would dare to speak up on issues like Chia Oai Peng, the Taliban destruction of Bamiyan Buddhas and the re-opening of Damansara school

Speech at the "New Deal for Mother-Tongue Education in Eighth Malaysia Plan" ceramah held at Jalan Raja Uda 
by Lim Kit Siang

(Bagan, Friday): The Cabinet meeting this Wednesday had been most disappointing  as many issues which concerned Malaysians had not been raised.

There was firstly the case of University of Malaya Associate Professor  Dr. Chia Oai Peng of the Department of Chinese Studies, who is being victimised by the MCA Deputy Education Minister, Datuk Hon Choon Kim for speaking the truth about the Damansara School dispute.

Chia  had been asked by the University of Malaya Vice Chancellor to "show cause" why disciplinary action should not be instituted against her, which as Penang State Exco member, Dr. Toh Kin Woon had described as totally at odds with the university's aim to be a  reputable and outstanding centre of learning.

I had expected the Gerakan President and Primary Industries Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Lim Keng Yaik  to raise at the Cabinet meeting on Wednesday the case of Chia and to get the Cabinet to withdraw the "show cause" letter and to reprimand Hon Choon Kim for endangering Malaysia's ambition to be an international centre for educational excellence by attracting foreign
students with such a clumsy attempt to suppress academic freedom.

However, Keng Yaik had failed to raise the Chia case at the Cabinet meeting.

Another disappointment of the Cabinet meeting on Wednesday is its failure to condemn the barbaric and uncivilised Taliban destruction of the ancient and priceless Bamiyan Buddhas in Afghanistan, including  the world's tallest 174-ft standing Buddha - in defiance of world opinion which had been quite unanimous in the condemnation of such action as cultural genocide and
vandalism of an invaluable heritage of mankind and civilisation.

I had praised the Penang Chief Minister, Tan Sri Dr. Koh Tsu Koon for kicking off the signature campaign initiated by Buddhist associations to protest against the Taliban destruction of the Afghan Buddhas, but it is most disappointing that Keng Yaik had failed to raise this issue in Cabinet so that the Malaysian government could be in the international forefront to denounce the barbaric Taliban desecration of priceless cultural treasures of humanity.

A third disappointment of Wednesday's Cabinet meeting is the failure of Keng Yaik to raise the Damansara school controversy to ask the Cabinet to change its decision and allow the Damansara school to be retained and re-open as a local community school in addition to the building of a new Chinese primary school in Tropicana, Petaling in Selangor.

Keng Yaik should have invited the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, the Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and the Education Minister, Tan Sri Musa Mohamad to pay a visit to the original Damansara school and they would then understand why there are  such strong feelings in the local community as well as nation-wide for its continued retention.

This is because the 70-year-old 25-classroom Damansara school is in better condition than many other schools in Selangor and the country and there is no good reason why it should be closed down, especially as the problem faced in Klang Valley is too few Chinese primary schools and not an excess.

Dr. Toh Kin Woon had spoken loud and clear in public support for the retention and re-opening of the Damansara school in addition to the building of a new Chinese primary school in Tropicana and I am sure that he would have courageously raised the issue of Damansara school at the Cabinet meeting if he is a Cabinet member.

Kin Woon clearly would make a better Cabinet Minister than Keng Yaik, as the former would dare to speak up on issues like Chia Oai Peng, the Taliban destruction of Bamiyan Buddhas and the re-opening of Damansara school in the Cabinet unlike Keng Yaik. Gerakan would be doing itself and the people a great contribution if it should replace Keng Yaik with Kin Woon in the Cabinet.


*Lim Kit Siang - DAP National Chairman